Ask Your Preacher
Can you explain what's going on in John 20:22-23 where Jesus appears to give His disciples the power to forgive or not forgive sins? Other Bible verses like Hebrews 4:16 and 1 John 1:9 seem to indicate that it is God who directly forgives sins.
Got The Power?
Dear Got The Power,
The passage in Jhn 20:23 is more easily understood when we look at the original Greek. It is very rare that going back to the Greek is a big deal, but in this case, it adds a lot of color. When Jesus says, “Whatever sins you retain, they are retained”, the verb used for ‘are retained’ is a Greek perfect verb. A perfect verb is a verb used when the action has already happened and the effects of that action are still with us. The most accurate translation of that passage is “whatever sins you retain have already been retained, and the effects are still with us”. Of course, that translation is a little bit cludgy, so most translators shorten it up a bit to what you read in the average translation. It isn’t wrong to shorten it, but it does lose a little bit of the color that makes it easier to appreciate Jesus’ words.
Jesus was telling His apostles that they were going to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and the things that they were going to say wouldn’t be of their own opinion. When they taught, they taught God’s pre-appointed laws.
When Jesus died on the cross, what happened to Him? Was He just dead, or did His spirit go heaven for some time and then return to His body once He was resurrected? Sorry if this is a stupid question.
Where’d He Go?
Dear Where’d He Go,
It isn’t a stupid at all – many people have the same question. Jesus went to Paradise when He died – He said so. Jesus told the thief on the cross that they were both going to Paradise after they died (Lk 23:43). Some say that Jesus went to hell when He died. That argument refers to the verse where it states Jesus would spend three days and three nights in “the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40). However, that verse is simply stating that Jesus’ body would be buried for three days. Jesus’ spirit was separated from His body at death (Jas 2:26). Jesus’ body went into the ground, and His spirit went into Paradise.
In Matthew 19:28, Jesus said to Peter that His disciples would certainly sit on the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, in Matthew 20, the mother of John and James asked Jesus if her sons could sit on the two thrones next to Him. In Matthew 20:23, Jesus told her that those places were reserved for the persons His Father selected. I’m confused about this because Jesus said they would sit on the thrones. Could you please explain this? Thank you.
Jesus said in Matt 19:28 that the apostles would lead the church… a concept that is reiterated in Eph 2:20, but in Matt 20:21, James and John asked for a specific level of authority – to be the two most powerful men other than Christ. Jesus’ first answer to their question was that they had no idea what they were asking for (Matt 20:22). As we see later in the Scriptures, leadership in God’s kingdom is a lot different than leadership in a business or politics. It isn’t about power; it is about service (Matt 20:25-28). James and John were looking for power – but they didn’t know what they were talking about.
The second part is that Jesus said it was the Father’s decision, not His. That isn’t a contradiction of Matt 19:28; it is just a clause. Jesus said they would rule, but He clarified in Matt. 20 that the apostles would rule as the Father saw fit… Jesus wasn’t in charge of that particular decision.
What does Galatians 6:8 mean?
Looking For Logic
Dear Looking For Logic,
Gal. 6:8 explains that what we put into life is what we get out of life. If we sow spiritual things, we reap spiritual things. If we sow worldly things, we will reap worldly things. ‘Sow’ is a farming term that means ‘to plant’, and ‘reap’ means ‘to harvest’. When a farmer plants corn seeds, he can expect to harvest corn. If he plants potatoes, he can expect to harvest potatoes.
Our lives are the same way. If we spend our lives on things that don’t matter and things that are sinful, we will reap meaningless and sin-cursed futures. Instead, God wants us to invest in our souls and the eternity that awaits those who plant the Bible deep in their hearts and lives.
The Bible says in the old times men had two or three wives. How can that be true because of the Ten Commandments?
Dear Two Many,
The Ten Commandments, which are found in Ex. 20:1-17, never address the issue of polygamy and polygamy was part of life in the Old Testament. The New Testament teaches that Christians should honor God through monogamy (1 Cor 7:1-2, 1 Tim 3:2). There are scores of examples of monogamy being God’s preference for man:
- Adam & Eve were designed monogamously (Gen. 2:24).
- No polygamy existed until 7 generations after Adam (Gen 4:19).
- Noah, the last righteous man of his day, had only one wife (Gen 7:13).
- Qualification for an elder (Tit 1:6)
- Qualification for a deacon (1 Tim 3:12)
- Qualification for a worthy widow (1 Tim 5:9)
- Every New Testament command for a husband or wife assumes monogamy in the commandments (Mk 10:12, 1 Cor 7:3, Eph 5:33, etc.).
- The comparison of Christ and the church to a husband and wife relies on a monogamous design for marriage (Eph 5:22-23).